CategoryWelcome

A New Beginning

Some of this I’ve written about before in old posts, but I want to reboot my blog, and the back story seemed like a good place to start.

When I first started my blog, I had just finished up my MBA and moved to Kansas City with no job and no real plan for what I was going to do with my life. I had only been to KC two times before moving here, but several of my college friends moved here for jobs, and it seemed like a fun new adventure for me.

I was unemployed and had to prepay my entire 6 month lease on my apartment because I also didn’t have a credit score, having never taken out a loan or opened a credit card account. Funds were low and declining.

Despite the increasingly desperate situation, I was unmotivated to take any action. I would get up in the mornings, listen to the Adam Carolla podcast, then a bunch of talk radio, and at some point in the late afternoon I’d go out to buy fast food I didn’t have any business trying to afford.

My problem (one of them anyway) was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do beyond a vague notion of wanting to own my own business. I didn’t know what kind of business I wanted to own. I didn’t figure it out in college, and I wasn’t doing much to capitalize on all my free time to get something going.

I started my blog because I decided I might like to be a tech blogger. I’ve always had an interest in computers, and most of my posts over the last 5 years have been about Linux. I managed to get a couple of my posts featured on Linux news aggregators, and those translated into a lot (as far as I knew) page views. A couple of my posts have had a few thousand hits, which felt great to me, but now that I know a bit more about blogging, it’s pretty small potatoes.

As money continued to dwindle, I got a temp job at the Jackson County Courthouse, which really helped keep the lights on and gave me some purpose. By that time, I had learned to be a lot more thrifty, and mostly subsisted on potatoes and oatmeal and kept warm by burning logs taken from my parents in my apartment’s fireplace.

By December I had secured a “real job” in the Health Care IT industry, where I went on to work for four and a half years. After a couple raises and promotions, buying a house, a career change a little over a year ago, and getting married, I finally feel like a reasonably successful young middle-class American.

I love my current job in Business Intelligence, and I can see myself working for my current employer for many years to come. My boss was my RA back in college, and a few of my other close friends have come to work there in the last several months as well. The responsibilities I’ve been entrusted with allow me a lot of autonomy, and help me scratch my entrepreneurial itch from a safe, stable environment.

I’ve learned a lot in the 7 years I’ve been in the professional world, and I want to keep pushing my limits, expanding my skills, and documenting my journey to massive success. The new focus of my site will be recording and passing along what I’m learning for others on the same journey, and so that I’ll have something to look back on.

The tower of success is built brick by brick.

From the Top of the Compton Hill Water Tower

(If you just want to see the pictures, skip down to the bottom)

When I was in 7th grade in St. Charles, in the gifted program in my school district we did a unit on architecture, which sparked my ongoing interest in the topic.  The unit culminated in building a house model, a task I very much enjoyed, even installing lighting in the form of Christmas lights, creating a stucco like finish, and using AstroTurf for the lawn, which put my house model well past the card stock construction that was the assigned building material.  The only part I didn’t love was the roof, which ended up being a hipped roof because the teachers restricted the amount of supplies I could use.

But the part of the project that had a more lasting impact on me was looking at slides (as in film slides from the 70s) of architecture around the St. Louis area.  Of all the fascinating architecture we saw, the examples I was most fascinated by were the two water intakes in the Mississippi River and the three standpipe water towers.  Visiting the water intakes would be impossible, but when I got home from class, I told my parents about them and how cool they were on the slides, and cajoled my dad into driving me into St. Louis from St. Charles.

All three towers are located on or close to Grand Blvd, two in the College Hills neighborhood up North, and the third in Compton Heights just south of Midtown.  The towers looked a bit more weathered in person in the late 90s when I first saw them compared to in the slides from the 70s we viewed in class.

We started up North in College Hills.  The Grand Avenue Water Tower, the oldest of the three, is designed to look like a massive Corinthian column.  The white paint was starting to chip off and show through the red bricks it was constructed with.  The Bissell Street Tower just a couple blocks away,  was also made of red brick construction but had not been painted over.  Then we drove down Grand to see the Compton Hill Tower, which has a nice park built around it now (probably did back then too, but I can’t remember.

Of the three, only the Compton Hill Tower actually still serves as a water tower, though a reservoir in the park actually supplies the water to the surrounding area.

My curiosity was satisfied, and we returned home to St. Charles.  I continued with the project as I described at the beginning of this post.  The water towers slowly receded into the back of my memory until I rediscovered them again during college on what was to become one of my favorite websites:  Built St. Louis.

In 2013, Shannon got us Rams tickets as a Christmas present, and we went on a little driving tour of the city since she had never been before.  In addition to going up in the Arch, watching the Rams unexpectedly stomp the Saints, and enjoying the Imo’s pizza and toasted ravioli, we checked out the towers that I had last seen more than 10 years prior.  I later looked online and found that a Water Tower and Park Preservation Society dedicated to restoring, preserving, and promoting the Compton Hill water tower, and tours were permitted a couple times per year.  I was determined to go up in the Tower.

I got my chance in October 2014.  I went to stay with my Grandma in St. Ann for the weekend, and she and I met up with my sister to check out the Jewel Box and Korean War Memorial in Forest Park, then headed down to Compton Heights.  We got there a little before the tower was open to the public, so we milled around the park for a bit, taking in the Naked Truth statue and the reservoir area, which had some interesting fountains.  There was a pretty decent view of Downtown from right near the reservoir, and we could also see Clayton off in the distance.

Finally the tower opened, and we climbed the 198 spiral stairs to the top.  The view from the top was amazing, and I was able to see many buildings and landmarks I’d been studying on Built St. Louis and elsewhere from up top.  It was definitely worth the climb, and I highly recommend any St. Louis lovers, architecture lovers, history lovers, or cardio lovers to check it out for themselves.  Pictures below.

Compton Tower from the West

Compton Tower from the West

Compton Tower from the South

Compton Tower from the South

Compton Tower from the South

Compton Tower from the South

Naked Truth Statue

Naked Truth Statue

The inscription reads in part:  “As German-Americans and leaders of their compatriots in public life it ever was their lofty aim and steady purpose to prove true to the land of their adoption and to serve it faithfully and well.  Independent characters striving with ardent zeal for everything that is great and beautiful in life, they brought with them the precious treasures of Germania’s culture and placed them a blessing for all coming generations, in Columbia’s keeping…”

View from the top of the Reservoir

View from the top of the Reservoir

Mustache Fountain

Mustache Fountain

198 Stairs

198 Stairs

Looking up from the entrance to the Tower

Looking up from the entrance to the Tower

STL 250 Cake at the Water Tower

STL 250 Cake at the Water Tower

View of Downtown from the Top of the Tower, and the Reservoir Below

View of Downtown from the Top of the Tower, and the Reservoir Below

Compton Heights Neighborhood

Compton Heights Neighborhood

Compton Heights Neighborhood

Compton Heights Neighborhood

South St. Louis, Annheuser-Bush and Lemp Breweries visible

South St. Louis, Annheuser-Bush and Lemp Breweries visible

Cahokia Powerplant

Cahokia Powerplant

20141004_120930

Downtown Clayton in the Distance, looking West

Downtown Clayton in the Distance, looking West

20141004_121036

The Bissell and Grand Avenue Towers tiny blips in the distance, looking North

The Bissell and Grand Avenue Towers tiny blips in the distance, looking North

The Top of the Tower

The Top of the Tower

For more and better pictures of all three water towers, check out the Water Towers section of Built St. Louis.

Adventures in Linux – MacBook Pro

Several years ago I wrote a post called “Why I’m Buying a Mac.” I never ended up acting on that impulse, mainly because I was getting by just fine with my collection of aging Windows PCs on which I was dual booting with Linux, and mostly never even accessing Windows.

My wife had a Mid 2009 MacBook Pro that she had bought new many years ago. During her last semester of college, she frequently borrowed my Lenovo laptop to use MS Office 2013, which had programs she needed for both school and work that worked better for her purposes than Office for Mac 2008 was. I was glad to lend her the computer when she needed it since I could get by on my older computers for my needs during these short periods.

Eventually, her MacBook became essentially unusable. The 160 gb hard drive was full to the point only a couple hundred megabytes of space were unused and Google Chrome was unresponsive. Because of this, Shannon needed the Lenovo more and more to be able to get things done.

**Shannon (The Editor)’s Note: I did not like Window’s better than my MacBook! I worked as an admin and had to use windows so I got used to the Microsoft Office that windows supports. For those of you who don’t know, Microsoft Office SUCKS on Mac because the software is so out of date; it hasn’t been updated since 2011. I got spoiled on MS 2013/Office365

Hardware/Software Upgrade

We struck a deal, I’d trade her my Lenovo, probably the best computer I’d ever owned hardware wise, for the 5 year old (at the time) MacBook. In addition to the expansive 160 gb hard drive, the MacBook featured 2gb of RAM and a 2.26 ghz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. I went down to Microcenter in Overland Park and bought a 1tb hard drive, two 4 gb sticks of RAM and an external hard drive enclosure.

There are little pegs sticking out of the original MacBook hard drive I haven’t been able to remove, and I don’t know what to search for to find more to buy some, so the 1tb hard drive is just kind of sitting in the bay unsecured. Not ideal. I’ve still got to find a solution for this. I attached the old hard drive to external enclosure, but couldn’t actually enclose it because of the pegs that won’t come off. The computer was able to boot into recovery from the old hard drive now in the external enclosure, and using the tools within I was able to install OS X on the new hard drive.

It booted up, and I upgraded from OS X 10.9 to 10.10, which took a little way to download on the free version of Google Internet we employ. Great, so now I’ve got a clean MacBook Pro with a huge hard drive, what to do with it?

What to Do?

Well, triple booting with Linux and Windows was clearly the answer. I did a bit of research and installed rEFInd boot manager to make life with multiple OSes easier. Then I repartitioned the hard drive into three partitions of equal size. I could’ve probably just had one big logical partition to share among all 3 OS installations, but didn’t end up doing it that way.

The next step was to install Linux. I wanted to use Fedora, which is my distro of choice for now. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the GNOME or Xfce version to boot on the MacBook at all. I tried Googling for a solution, but none presented itself. I’m sure there’s a way to make it work, but I didn’t find one or post on any forums or anything. I decided to see how Linux Mint would handle the MacBook, and it booted up and installed like a champ, even giving me a tool to install proprietary drivers for the wireless and graphics cards. I haven’t used Mint in a while because in my mind it’s too “easy” and I just really like Fedora, but I had used it quite extensively back in college. I ended up going with the default Mint 17.1 over LMDE since the Debian Edition didn’t include the tool to add the proprietary drivers. It was probably something I could’ve installed from the software manager, but I didn’t really look into it since Mint 17.1 will be supported until 2019. It’s pretty unlikely I’ll still be using this computer by 2019, and I’m sure I’ll do some distro hopping between now and then anyway, so the benefit of a rolling release like LMDE isn’t a huge loss for me in going with regular old Mint.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint

Mac OSX Screenshot

So far I’ve been too lazy to install Windows 7 on the third partition. I think I read somewhere that I’ll need a driver’s disk that would’ve come with the laptop when my wife originally bought it, so if I run across that, it should make things easier.

Impressions

If I had to describe my experience with the MacBook Pro so far, I’d say “meh.” The hardware is nice enough. Figuring out the key sequence to take a screenshot on the Mac took some Googling, as well as to set the same key sequence under Linux.

Ultimately OS choice is up to the individual user. I don’t find myself enjoying the Mac experience. The way programs stay running even if you close the window instead of that exiting the whole program is kind of weird. All over Apple’s website they talk about how OS X is the most advanced operating system in the world. Well, the interface is probably the most tired. Sure, in 10.10 everything went to “flat” icons rather than 3D, but the basic look of the whole OS has been about the same since 2001.

I also found that I have no interest in using all the default Mac software such as iTunes, iCalendar, and iWhatever else. I found myself installing the same software on OS X that I have come to use on Linux, and also on Windows when rarely I use Windows. If others want to close themselves up within Apple’s “walled garden” they’re free to do so, but it’s not for me. Maybe if I had an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, and/or an Apple TV, or had stayed within the Apple universe I grew up in back in the 90s longer, I’d be more inclined to get back into it now.

Next Steps

The only thing I’ve noticed that doesn’t work on the MacBook under Linux Mint is the webcam. I’ve done research on how to get it working, but haven’t had any success. I would like to get Fedora to work on here because it’s really my preferred distro. At some point I also want to get Windows installed as well. Finally, the computer really needs a new battery as well. The old original battery lasts maybe an hour and a half.

**Shannon (The Editor)’s note: after conversing with Russell in regards to the webcam issue, it has became apparent that the webcam has been broke for a long time so the issue cannot be blamed solely on LM.

Thoughts?

Have you used Linux on a MacBook? Were you able to make triple booting work? Do you have any advice?

A Love Story

The biggest story in my life in 2014, and for the rest of my life going forward is Shannon. We met through mutual friends through Vineyard Church in 2012, and started dating in June of 2013. Shannon is the Nursery and Preschool director Relationship 1at Vineyard Church KC North and a Psychology major at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO.

As she’ll tell you, when we first met, Shannon didn’t like me much. As time went on, she didn’t really know what to think about me, but eventually decided I was an OK guy most of the time, except when I wasn’t.

A couple days after Shannon’s birthday in June 2013, some mutual friends got together at Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate her turning 21. As the night wore on, people gradually filtered away, and finally I walked her out to her car. We kept talking for probably another hour, and I asked her out. We went on our first date to Brio Italian Restaurant on the KC Plaza, followed up by desert at Yoghurtini. On a subsequent date, we went to the Independence Day fireworks show in Parkville.

A common theme on most of our early dates was running into someone she knew from church. Some of our other notable dates in 2013 were a weekend at Table Rock Lake with friends for Labor Day, a trip to see the Hornet Spook Light near Joplin (it’s real!), a trip to Augusta in the Missouri Rhineland for some wine tasting and a visit to St Charles, and a trip to St. Louis to go up in the arch and watch the Rams stomp on the Saints (which is something they need to do to more teams next season).

  Relationship 3

By February of 2014, we had started talking about our vision for the future, and we both knew we wanted to be married and spend the rest of our lives together. We knew we needed to wait a bit longer since we’d only been dating 8 months at that time, but we didn’t want to keep putting off our lives on hold for too long. I started making plans. Shannon wanted a less vague plan for the future, so I finally gave her a one month range of time she might expect a proposal, some time between May 15 and June 15.

I started planning what our engagement would look like. I didn’t want to do anything showy and public like a flash mob, I just wanted a beautiful private moment for us. I was talking to my friend James because he and I spit balled ideas for his own engagement previously. He reminded me of the Japanese Stroll Garden in Springfield that we had tried to visit once back in college, so I made a trip down to Springfield to do some recon. I left at 4:30 AM, got down to Springfield, and we scouted the location. It was perfect. We figured out a good plan of execution, and all that was left was to play the waiting game. To cover my tracks, I solicited another friend to tell a little white lie with me that we were at his place smoking a brisket all day that day.

Relationship 2

Now I just had to secure Shannon’s father’s blessing. As luck would have it, he was down at Lake of the Ozarks with his parents cleaning up a piece of property on the weekend of Mother’s Day. My parents also live at Lake of the Ozarks, so I “went down to the Lake for Mother’s Day” and ultimately to St. Louis later that weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day for my Grandma with my extended family, and this provided a good cover to stop by Vince’s parent’s place to ask his permission to marry Shannon. Vince gave me his permission, and agreed to only tell Shannon’s mom Janeen, and after that I went over to my parent’s house without mentioning anything to anyone else.

The next weekend, Shannon and I went down to Springfield for my sister Emily’s graduation ceremony. She had just completed her Master’s in Public Administration at Missouri State University. The plan was after the ceremony we were going to meet up with James and his wife Kaitlyn. After the ceremony and dinner with the family, we were on our own. I told Shannon that James wasn’t ready for us yet, so we had some time to kill. The sky was gray, and it looked like it was going to rain at any minute. I told her we would go check out the Japanese Stroll Garden, and she reluctantly agreed, but wasn’t too excited about it.

We entered the garden and were walking along, and finally stopped on this bridge over a little pond. Much to Shannon’s surprise, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She said yes! She told me later that while we were walking through the garden she’d been thinking it would’ve been a great place to get engaged, but that she was completely surprised when it happened. The date was May 16, one day into that one month range I gave her before.

Engagement Setting

Engagement Setting

Engagement - Before

Engagement – Before

Engagement - During

Engagement – During

Later we went out to the Mud Lounge in Downtown Springfield and met up with Kaitlyn and James to celebrate, and Shannon got her second surprise. James and Kaitlyn were hiding in the bushes photographing the whole thing. It turned out thinking back that Shannon had seen someone moving around in the distance that was James, but she hadn’t realized it at the time. The next morning we got breakfast with my sister at Gailey’s and told her we were engaged, and then told the rest of our family and friends later that day.

Engagement - After Thanks James and Kaitlyn!

Engagement – After
Thanks James and Kaitlyn!

We got married on Friday, December 12, 2014. Thanks to Alicia and Garrett Van Gotten of We Design Weddings for creating our invitations. Thanks to our friends and family for being supportive participants in our wedding ceremony. Roger Wilson of Vineyard KC North was our officiant, and is also Shannon’s boss. The bridesmaids were Sydney Ward the Maid of Honor, Janica Lowry, Emily Hollander, and Lynsey Lowdon. The groomsmen were James Den Beste the Best Man, Neil Sickendick, Garrett Van Gotten, and Zach Shipp. The Flower Girls were our grandmothers, Vicki Shipp and Kitty Ott. Grandma Ott also recorded a couple piano tracks we used during the ceremony. Thanks to Adam Page for being the sound guy at the wedding, and for introducing me and Shannon back in 2012. Thanks to Tierra Fielder of Picture To The T Photography for taking our engagement and wedding photos. Finally, thanks to our loving, supportive parents Vince and Janeen Shipp and Gary and Nancy Hollander for being great examples for us, and for funding our wedding rehearsal and wedding ceremony.

Shannon and Russell Wedding-32Shannon and Russell Wedding-57Shannon and Russell Wedding-149Shannon and Russell Wedding-99Shannon and Russell Wedding-153Shannon and Russell Wedding-159Shannon and Russell Wedding-157Shannon and Russell Wedding-156Shannon and Russell Wedding-287Shannon and Russell Wedding-188Shannon and Russell Wedding-294Shannon and Russell Wedding-219Shannon and Russell Wedding-297Shannon and Russell Wedding-260Shannon and Russell Wedding-282

After the wedding, we went to the Riviera Maya in Mexico for our honeymoon. We stayed at the all-inclusive Valentin Imperial Maya resort for 5 days, and it was wonderful. In addition to some great times at the beach and the pool, we had the opportunity to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, and to take a boat tour where Shannon did some snorkeling and petted a sea turtle (snorkeling turned out not to be my thing).

Now that we’re back in Kansas City, we’ve been enjoying a bit more time off before returning to work and school. Shannon is making our house into a home, which is great since I lived a pretty spartan barbarous bachelor lifestyle before. Thanks again to all our friends and family who have been with us from the beginning, particularly those who gave us so many wonderful wedding presents that we’re already making good use of. We’re looking forward to a lifetime of happiness yet to unfold.

Own Your Name

This concept didn’t originate with me, and I can’t find the site(s) where I originally read about the importance of owning your own name online.  I’m not trying to take someone else’s idea here, just emphasize the truth behind the idea.  You need to own your own name online.

I realized a long time ago that you need to own your name in the form of a website.  I own basically every variation of russellhollander I can get my hands on, .net, .biz, .us, .org, .whatever.  I bought these domains so I don’t have anybody else out there operating under my name.  Not that anybody would do so maliciously, but if they are also named Russell Hollander.  Well, I was here first, and that’s going to be me.  You can find a different name to operate under online.  Someone else before me got rhollander and hollander, so I took russellhollander.

I hadn’t considered how this same logic applies to social media though.  Honestly I find social media kind of tiring.  I maintain a Facebook and a Twitter, but I don’t particularly care for them.  I keep FB going because I’ve got a ton of friends on there from college, and don’t have another way of being in touch with them.  I guess I could get their phones and email addresses, but it’s easier to just let FB handle all that for me.  I keep it pretty locked down though.  I kind of view Twitter as my public face on social media, but I barely send out any tweets.  I mostly use it to just keep track of news.  I guess I have a Google+ as well, don’t do anything with that.  Oh yeah, and Linked in.  Guess I should make better use out of these things.

But the Instagram Imposter episode has taught me that you need to own your name on social media too, even when it is annoying.  I don’t know anything about Instagram other than Facebook owns it.  Yet some miscreant got on there, set up an account with basically my name, stole my photo from Twitter, and at least had the decency to also post this web address.  I can’t really see that the person did anything with the account.  No activity.  I would’ve never even known about it unless a couple friends of mine told me they were following me on there.  Well, you can’t follow me on Instagram as of this writing, because I don’t use an Instagram.  But maybe I should.  Someone else is out there pretending to be me.  I can’t have that.

In the end, Instagram removed that account, so for now the issue is resolved.  I’d still like to know if it was a person creating that, or if Instagram somehow scrubbed publicly available data and made that account to inflate their numbers, as was suggested by a friend of mine in the web design, SEO, and marketing business.

The whole point I’m rambling towards is that you probably should have an account for yourself with these services, if nothing else so your presence on the web is actually coming from you.  Most of us are insignificant enough no one would bother to take our names or try to pretend to be us, but I don’t know why you’d even give out the opportunity.  Maybe that’s a paranoid way of looking at things, but I’d look at is as proactive.

Someone Is Impersonating Me on Instagram

I don’t have an instagram account.  If you go to www.instagram.com/russhollanderk you will see an account using my image and listing my website address.  I did not set this account up, and this is not me.  I am not this person.  I found out about it when friends of mine in the real world told me they were following me on instagram.

Instagram’s “help center” or whatever is being anything but helpful.  In addition to having no phone number or email address or whatever, their annoying form to dispute this account isn’t working.  And they’re demanding that I send them color photos of government issued IDs.  Well, I don’t like that, but I’m trying to do it.  And they won’t let me.

The impersonator doesn’t appear to really be doing anything.  I’m wondering if Facebook just decided to create this account for me.  If that’s the case, they need to let people know they’re doing that.  Instagram needs to make their support and help pages actually useful.

I’ll post another update whenever this situation resolves itself, if ever.

 

Update 10:42

I think I finally got the form to submit on the official instagram help page, so hopefully the ball is rolling.  I also tweeted @Instagram and @Instagram help to try to move things along.  I have a feeling I’ll get faster action that way hopefully.  I’m sure the Instagram app and website are dandy, but I don’t use that service, and don’t want anyone using my image, likeness, and name out there.  People that do use Instagram love it, and I’m sure their support is good, and the problem I was having submitting the dispute form was on my end.  Further updates to come.

 

Update 10:51

Got an email from the Instagram support after submitting the form finally worked.  I emailed them back with the exact same info I had submitted, just to be sure.  I’m sure they’ve got the ball rolling now.  Hopefully this will be done quickly.  Below is a screenshot of the imposter account, just for fun.

Imposter

 

Update 10:57

Just an observation, not really a development.  The Instagram dispute form wanted color copies of a government issued ID where they can clearly see my name and so forth.  Well, in addition to my driver’s license, I keep my passport in my work bag.  My girlfriend thought it was weird to have that on me.  Maybe that isn’t smart, but I always know where it is.  And it came in handy today.  I know I’m me, and I have two forms of gubmint ID to prove it, basically at all times.  I’ve got my social security card on me too, come to think of it.  Right behind my fishing license in my wallet.

Update 4:30 on 4/19
Overnight I got an email from Instagram saying the fallacious account was deleted. They didn’t elaborate on whether an individual was responsible, or if it was something created automatically, which is a theory that seems more and more likely. Also, I’m making this update from my phone. This is my first time using WordPress as an app on my phone. Seems pretty good so far.

2011 Review

2011 was my first full year of post-college “real life.” In many ways this was a year of beginnings, and for me it was a very good year. I thought I would do a little summary write-up of some of the significant events in my life during 2011. Later I will do a post on some of my plans for 2012.

 

I began 2011 with a trip to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January. I had never been to Las Vegas before, so that was quite an experience in itself. I stopped by the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop of Pawn Stars fame, drove out to the Grand Canyon, and saw many fascinating cutting edge technical gadgets. The weather was beautiful in Nevada, and I was not excited to return to 8 inches of snow covering my car at the Kansas City airport.

 

The defining element of 2011 for me was starting my first full-time job at Cerner Corporation in Kansas City. I was hired at the end of 2010, and started work in late January of 2011. After a period of training, I joined my AMS team in early April, where I have been working ever since. My team, organization, and the entire company have been growing rapidly this entire year. I’ve made many new friends and gained lots of valuable experience, and I’m looking forward to continuing my career in 2012.

 

Later in the year, I had an opportunity to get more involved with my church by helping facilitate a Financial Peace University course. Most of the concepts were not new to me thanks to my finance educational background, but Dave Ramsey’s course material is very well organized and simple to understand. After going through the course, I’ve made some important changes in my own saving, spending, and investing habits.

 

So, those were some of the more important things that happened to me in 2011. Keep your eyes peeled for my next post, which will detail some of my plans for 2012.

February Site Statistics

I had two posts this month: How to Avoid Looking Like a Clown and Can You Trust Google? Why Take a Chance?. The Google post was more popular, with 320 page views, but the Clown post generated more discussion. I was pretty busy in February starting my new job, so I didn’t post as much, and this resulted in a drop in traffic. Now that I’m pretty well settled in, I’m going to do better in March. What was exciting for me was the fact that I only promoted either of these pieces through my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. Previously the only way I got any views was by submitting my work to Lxer, and then others posting it sites like Tux Machines. I’m very grateful for those traffic sources, but I’m glad that people are coming back to my new stuff even if I only promote it half-heartedly. Get excited, because I’ve got some good posts brewing for this month.

 

Have a good one.

January Site Statistics

What do you do when it’s 2 degrees outside and the roads are impassable due to yesterday’s blizzard?  Drink some Earl Grey and post your blog stats.  This is my second post on site statistics, this time for the period between 1/1/2011 and 1/31/2011.  During this period I had 1,523 visits from 80 countries and territories.  I’m averaging about 30 visits per day now on days that I haven’t posted articles about Linux.

Once again, the post that received the most attention was one about Linux, this time my review of Saline Linux, which accounts for 1,029 of my visits this month.

Linux users account for 56.8% of my visitors, whereas Windows users account for 34.14% this month.  Firefox and Chrome are still dominant browser wise at 696 and 447 visitors respectively, with Internet Explorer limpint in at 118, and my favorite browser Opera in fourth place with 95 users.

I met my goal of beating the previous month’s visitor totals, although not by a wide margin.  Here is a table summarizing my site statistics for the last two months.

Site Statistics

So it looks like I need to keep writing about Linux.  And fortunately, I’ve got an idea about to come down the pike in another week or so which should draw some readership.  Still don’t have Google Adwords/Adsense/Adwhatever setup, but I’m not hugely worried about it.

Apparently social media is almost a non-factor in drawing people to my site.  I think on Facebook this is because I only have 4 fans on my fanpage.  It’s even worse on Twitter, where I can’t even average one click per day.  I’m going to have to work on this.

Fan me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Have a good one.

A Trip to the Grand Canyon

On the fourth day I was in Las Vegas, I decided to make good use of my rental car and drive out to the Grand Canyon. I left about 6:30 AM, and Google Maps seemed to think it was going to take about 5 hours to get there. As luck would have it, about 40 miles past the Hoover Dam, I saw a sign for the Grand Canyon Sky Bridge which is located at Grand Canyon West. I turned off Highway 93 and headed for Grand Canyon West.

At some point I went through a depressing looking town called Dolan Springs. It seems like I went about 50 miles up the turn off road, and then another 20 or so down a mostly gravel road over to the entrance to the Grand Canyon West area.

The Hualapai Indian Tribe runs the entire area. I’m not sure if I was on a reservation, or if they converted some other land they owned into this canyon viewing park. I parked, walked into this inflatible gift shop/ticket sales building, purchased the $42 Hualapai Legacy pass (the minimum price and pachage that could be purchased), and boarded the bus to ride over to the canyon. I could have paid $75 to also get to walk on the Skywalk, but I figured the Canyon was pretty big, and I’d be able to get a pretty good view without paying an additional $33.

We bussed over to the canyon, jumped off the bus, and met a couple Hualapai that were hanging out near the first stop. There was no sort of railing or barrier, you could walk straight up to the edge of the canyon, and even jump off if you were so inclined, although that probably wouldn’t have ended well.

I’ll stop the narrative here, and just let you view the majestic splendor of the Grand Canyon, carved by the Hand of God.

A bit of snow on the canyon

The Skywalk

Me in Front of the Canyon

More Canyon Snow

My New Desktop Background

Joshua Trees

Joshua Tree

© 2019 Russell Hollander

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑